Stoke Mandeville: 7th Nov 2005
2 Land Rovers
Team of six
Cape Town: 17th April 2006
Why drive across Africa?
Driving overland from Stoke Mandeville to Cape Town was more than just an expedition to Colin. It has been his dream from a very early age.
Born in Kenya, it wasn’t long before tragedy struck his family for the first time. Colin was barely six months old when his farmer-farther was killed during a raid on the tea-estate he worked on. In the aftermath of this horrendous incident his mother Val, moved her small (yet uniquely-bonded) family to a suburb just on the outskirts of Nairobi. It was here, in a small wooden bungalow, surrounded by another sea of evergreen-tea where the trio would live for the following six years.
In 1986, after struggling to pay expensive school fees on a modest teacher’s salary, Val had a tough decision to make. To ensure that her two sons – Barrie (older brother) and Colin – could receive the best that life had to offer, Val gave up everything to move to England. England was strange and new, but they were determined to forge a new existence together in Herefordshire. It was at this young age of six that Colin first dreamt of ‘Driving Home’ to Kenya and onto Cape Town.
Colin went on to live an active, outdoor lifestyle and travelled abroad when possible – returning to Kenya on countless occasions – and took part in trips to Mexico, Australia, Alaska and Tanzania. At the of twenty tragedy was to strike the Javens family for the second time. One year into an agricultural degree at Harper Adams University, Colin dived off the harbour wall at the Isle of Wight and into the murky sea below. Unfortunately, the saline water was barely three feet deep and festooned with rocks. As a result, Colin broke his neck by seriously damaging three vertebrae.
Following an operation in Southampton he was transferred to the National Spinal Injury Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury. Colin remained on a high dependency unit for one month and later moved to a rehabilitation ward. It was here that Colin had to face the prospect of being paralysed from the shoulders down (tetraplegic), wheelchair bound and reliant on help for the rest of his life. Right from the start he was determined to live life to the full, and having vowed to be out of hospital within a year of the accident, left after 364 days.
In the intervening three years since 'escaping' hospital Colin has shown determination and bravery to learn to live with his spinal injury. He has been skiing, kayaking, completed his degree and has even learnt to drive again. The Driving Home expedition across Africa was the next step to maximise his independence and to fulfil the dream he had before his accident.
The original idea for the project came from Colin, who planned to organise an expedition across Africa and use it as a vehicle to raise funds for the charity Spinal Research. However, following interest from major sponsors (Founding Partners page), the project increased dramatically in size and scope. The Colin Javens Spinal Injury Trust was established and two project managers were employed to ensure the success of a wider fundraising remit, PR and the expedition itself.
Funds Raised So Far
Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Kenyan Paraplegic Organisation
Kilimanjaro Accociaton for Spinal Injuries
Quadpara Association of South Africa
The Players Fund
Stoke Mandeville Hospital
The Julia & Derek Breed Foundation